Need to Get Into the Art Business

First, the exciting news. I won $250 playing penny slots. And yes, I know that sounds ridiculously sad, the penny slots and all.

I spent the weekend in Reno at the Coeur d’Alene art auction. According to the website, the auction “specializes in Fine 19th and 20th Century Western, Wildlife and Sporting Art, representing established contemporaries and past masters.” Well, I wouldn’t consider some of the paintings great works. There was a fishing boat with a huge marlin that went for well into the tens of thousands of dollars. There were some ugly works of hunting dogs and hunters shooting animals. Definitely not my style. But then there were beautiful pieces such as this John Fery or this Clyde Aspevig.

This was the third year I’ve gone. We go mostly to reunite with the Western side of the family.
The first night we were there, we’d traveled all day and my parents decided to go to sleep. Being the only one under 50 has its disadvantages, such as everyone going to bed and you not being tired. So I gambled at the slots and won my $250.

The next day of our whirlwind trip was the cocktail hour and art preview. First, yum! Open bar plus everything from lamb chops, freshly sliced roast beef and sushi to pork potstickers, shrimp cocktail, and cheese and crackers. Oh, and dessert tables to.die.for.

On Saturday we got a yummy brunch and then the auction starts (and the bar opens again, for free, the entire time the auction goes on, mmm). The auction lasts about 5 hours (300 pieces, about 60 pieces per hour). The room is divided into thirds, than each third is divided in half. There is a telephone bank along the right wall when facing the stage. 4 spotters are dispersed among the sections to “yip” when they see a bidder. Yes, I said yip. And they do, loudly. The bidding wars begin.

After the hammer comes down on your winning price, don’t forget that you have to pay the buyer’s premium (paid to the auction) on top of the purchase price. That will run you an extra 12%. Then you have to pay for shipping. Don’t think you can get out of paying shipping though, by taking it with you. If you decide to do that, then you have to pay Nevada state tax (I think another 7.5-8%).

The auction sales totaled almost $35 million ($34,966,736). 12% of $35 million = $4.2 million IN.A.WEEKEND.

I need to get into the art business. It certainly beats my slot winnings.

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